NSW warned to expect spike in Covid deaths as hospitalisations rise

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Brendon Thorne/AAP</span>
Photograph: Brendon Thorne/AAP

State records 29,504 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths as new figures show unvaccinated are 13 times more likely to be admitted to ICU

The New South Wales chief health officer has warned deaths from Covid-19 are likely to spike in the coming days, as hospitalisation data shows unvaccinated people with the virus are 13 times more likely to end up in intensive care.

Dr Kerry Chant issued the warning on Monday as the state recorded another 17 deaths and 29,504 new Covid cases, following a record week in which 126 people died from the virus in the state.

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“Given the broader community transmission of Covid I would like to flag that the number of deaths are likely to be higher over the coming days,” she said.

Victoria announced 22,429 new cases of the virus on Monday and six deaths, while Queensland recorded 15,122 and seven deaths.

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr John Gerrard said the Gold Coast, which has had a significant number of cases and hospitalisations, is expected to see a peak some time in the next week.

The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, again urged unvaccinated people to get the jab, saying they needed “to give a damn about someone other than themselves”.

Hazzard cited hospitalisation data which showed unvaccinated people were six times more likely to end up in hospital with the Omicron variant, and 13 times more likely to end up in ICU.

That figure was backed up by the latest NSW Covid surveillance report, which showed to 1 January the hospitalisation rate was 9.1% among cases aged 12 years and older with no vaccine dose, compared to 1.2% of people who had received two doses.

It comes as Sydney respiratory physician and lung specialist Dr Lucy Morgan revealed the strain on frontline health workers amid the surge in cases, saying she had been in a Covid hospital ward until 1am before fronting Monday’s press conference.

“About every hour between 1am and 6am, I got another call about another patient sick enough to be admitted to my hospital with Covid illness,” she said.

“In the short-term, that’s okay. But in the long-term … this is bad. It’s really hard on us and it’s really hard on the people of NSW.

“Because this is leading to some delayed diagnoses, some longer waiting times for everything and a huge burden on our community as we try to keep everything ticking over.”

Despite reintroducing some restrictions because of the surging Omicron wave, the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, insisted on Monday that there was no point introducing further curbs.

“The only alternative is to go into lockdown,” he said.

“We have do deal with the world as it is, not as we want it to be. We’ve said in the past … we were working to a vaccination program of 70%, to be at 95% means we can open up society.”

Events support package for NSW

Also on Monday the NSW government announced a package to support festival organisers in the wake of restrictions on major events in the state during the Omicron wave.

The NSW treasurer, Matt Kean, announced the $43m in funding for event organisers who had lost money as a result of restrictions, and foreshadowed further support packages would be announced in the coming days as businesses complain that an effective “shadow lockdown” was having a major impact on trade.

But that is unlikely to include an extension of close contact exemptions for hospitality workers, Perrottet said.

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